A University of Texas student claims in a lawsuit that UT President Gregory L. Fenves misapplied the school’s sexual assault policy and suspended him for five semesters even though his accuser agreed to have sex after a sorority formal in spring 2016.
The case, which raises questions about the rights of the accused, comes amid national and local concern over the prevalence of campus sexual assault.
According to the lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Austin, Fenves on April 12 overruled a university hearing officer who determined that there had been no assault. In a letter informing the student of his suspension, Fenves asserted that the woman was highly intoxicated and “someone who is intoxicated cannot give consent to sexual activity because they are incapacitated.”
Fenves, citing testimony by a witness who attended the formal, added, “While parties may disagree as to whether intoxication and incapacitation are synonymous, certainly, someone described as: ‘incredibly intoxicated, no longer coherent, at a point where she needed to be taken home away from the event because she couldn’t form sentences,’ meets the definition of incapacitated.”
The lawsuit accuses Fenves of coming up with his own standard for incapacitation and ignoring the university’s standard, which defines it as “a state of being that prevents an individual from having the capacity to give consent” and “could result from the use of drugs or alcohol.”